Telecommunications & Digital Infrastructure


Handling the Challenges of a Rapidly Evolving Industry

From the rise of smart cities and 5G to blockchain and machine-to-machine communication, next generation wireless technologies are reshaping our world. Participants in the telecommunications and digital infrastructure industry have a critical role to play in building the networks of the future. At the same time, they must navigate a maze of overlapping federal, state and local regulation. 

Saul Ewing attorneys help FCC-regulated wireless carriers, tower companies, providers of DAS, small cell and fiber, public utilities and communications infrastructure companies achieve their business and infrastructure development goals. We often work on behalf of clients to help state and local governments interpret and apply statutes and regulations relating to telecommunications and digital infrastructure. In addition, we advise clients involved in such projects on all manner of legal issues from corporate transactions and historic preservation to land use and real estate development, and, when appropriate, litigation in state and federal courts. 

We have helped our telecommunications clients strategize and execute some of the largest site builds in the Mid-Atlantic region. We have also helped obtain thousands of siting approvals, many in challenging jurisdictions. Our problem-solving skills and deep industry experience allow us to handle difficult and high visibility projects. On behalf of tower companies, we routinely handle due diligence for tower acquisition, tower replacement agreements, and we help manage and defend portfolios of leases, owned tower, rooftop and other antenna sites.

Our Telecommunications & Digital Infrastructure team provides services across the following areas:

Regulatory, Real Estate and Infrastructure Development

  • Land use, zoning and permitting
  • Public right-of-way agreements
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Environmental and historic preservation review
  • Real estate transactions and leasing 
  • Expedited approvals under § 6409 of the Telecommunications Act (47 USC §1455)

Dispute Resolution and Litigation

  • Working with local regulators to informally resolve land use and siting disputes
  • Litigating against municipalities in federal and state courts under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and/or state law claims

Corporate Services

  • Acquisitions, sales, and financings
  • Due diligence and legal opinions 
  • Government relations
  • Tax, insurance, and securities issues
  • Government contracts

Key Contact
Gregory E. Rapisarda
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View a selection of our Telecommunications & Digital Infrastructure representations here.

  • Major wireless carrier raw land builds and wireless infrastructure development, including siting, land use, zoning and related real estate issues for macro, small cell and DAS development.
  • Tower companies – the big ones as well as small and mid-sized – in raw land site builds for macro and small cell wireless facilities, DAS and other infrastructure development.
  • Litigation to protect rights and defend assets in federal and state courts, including abuse of authority, landlord defaults and bankruptcies, creditors’ judgments, subordinations and other threats.
  • A dark fiber provider in a significant series of projects building new dark fiber infrastructure to serve multiple major exchanges in the Northeast. Our work includes assistance with and advice on indefeasible right of use (IRU) agreements, local, state and federal land use and permitting, including preemption issues and other concurrent and overlapping authorities and priorities.
  • A public utility in convincing a county zoning board to administratively approve as a minor modification to the original special exception the company’s communications facility with a 180-foot monopole and datalink, which were needed for a safety and security update to its Maryland substation. This strategy obviated the need to pursue a special exception, which could have taken one to two years of review and hearings.
  • A major cellular phone services carrier in obtaining zoning approval for a 199-foot monopole in Maryland over significant community opposition. We also helped resolve an issue regarding a right-of-way common use driveway, where the driveway encroached outside of the deeded right-of-way. We worked with our client’s contractors to move the driveway 50 feet to eliminate an encroachment on neighboring properties. 
  • A wireless carrier in pursuing a special exception to build a new wireless telecommunications facility and 180-foot monopole. The county board of appeals denied the special exception after a local politician opposed the facility. On appeal, a Maryland court reversed, agreeing with our client that the board’s denial was not supported by substantial evidence and misapplied Maryland law.  
  • A telecommunications company in obtaining a variance from a West Virginia board of zoning appeals to increase an existing silo telecommunications facility by 10 feet to allow the company to co-locate its antennas. 
  • A wireless provider in obtaining approval from a Virginia county for our client to co-locate its telecommunication equipment on an existing water tower owned by the county. Our team persuaded the county that the equipment could be installed by right under the federal Telecommunications Act, obviating the need for the matter to proceed before the planning commission. 
  • A telecommunications company in obtaining zoning approval of a special exception application to build a rooftop telecommunications facility in a mid-Atlantic city. 
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